March 30, 2009

Build a Dinghy:Part 1

Every boater should build a small rowboat, or preferably, a so-called "sail and oar" boat like the one currently under construction in my shop. Building your own small boat provides a saltier, classier dinghy than the ubuitous inflatable or roto-molded plastic models available in the catalogues. I cant refute the seaworthiness of the former or the economic practicality of the latter, but building even a simple plywood rowboat like this one grants insight into all kinds of boating minutia. Hull shape, the balance ( or conflict) of weight versus strength, storage, capacity and more become different animals when your the decision maker instead of just kibbitzing after the fact. A boat a'building makes you a better judge of boats and boat construction in general. That you get a custom, lightweight dinghy made and finished exactly like you want is a great bonus. These little boats cost a few hundred in materials and about 40 hours to complete as a rowboat that can take a small outboard. Add another 20 hours if yuo elect to build the sailing bits and rig. They weigh about 60-pounds. Imagine, as you row the waterfront, someone ashore notices the little head-turner under your command and asks, "Where'd you get that?" Your reply, without missing a stroke on the oars --or as you tack smartly--is the real payoff: " I built it."

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